By the pFARM Collective
The basic structure of the pFARM performance is tri-subcultural:
A: Organic Farming Subculture
B: Sado-Masochistic Subculture
C: Biotech Company Subculture
Place: Woodstock, New York, USA
As with any small town, rumours are spreading. Something is not right about that little farm down the way. Some have seen older men dressed as animals pulling a plow. They call themselves the pFARM Klan. They are young utopian farmers working on a planned community right here in the hippy heartland, Woodstock, New York. It makes your heart proud.
So how can they be so politically un-hipsterish? They have taken to wearing rubber shorts and mink stoles and nothing else while parading around town handing out flowers. It is legal to be topless in Woodstock but this is a little much. Some of them have riding crops hanging from their belts and others have been known to walk around our town shopping... while handcuffed together. How can they try to sell herbal tinctures at the Flea Market dressed like that? Is this bad for business?
The most irksome rumour is all that talk about the pFARM high security laboratory. What kind of cryptic, kabbalistic research is being applied within? Someone heard something about mutation? And, we do sometimes hear of screams in the middle of the night. What kind of freaks are these backwoods folk? What is really going on here?
They have advertised visiting hours in the local paper, so we decide to go visit pFARM.
As we enter the small farm, we are subjected to having our picture taken by video intercom and we must sign some kind of non-disclosure forms. I am not even sure if this story I am telling is legal for me to publish. Now the tour begins. We are led around by a young retro-hippie who seems to be wearing a diaper under his torn blue jeans. We are told that we have the full run of the place, except for the red barn, which is emphatically declared Off Limits to Visitors and referred to as 'The Lab'. According to our guide, there are initiation rites and safety training sessions that must be passed before gaining access to that area. Entrance is allowed only after passing one of a variety of VivoArts Intensive Courses given twice a month. It seems that Chicken Embryology Mutagenesis/Sculpting, Experimental Organic Plant Tissue Culture and Cryogenic Storage of Cell Lines for Pleasure are all courses which are available to the general public as short attention span, weekend-hippy crash courses. This is how one might gain access to 'The Lab'.
Other than that, we are shown to a lively chicken coop, we meet two pigmy goats, Hecate and Dionysius, and we walk around a few acres of cultivated flowers and medicinal plants. The soil, it is explained, is amended with vermiculite and chicken shit, peat moss and bone meal, blue rock and blood. 'There is no culture without agriculture!' we are told. Biodynamic, Organic, Permaculture and Heirloom Seed Saving methods of farming are explained. There is a small greenhouse with all sorts of baby medicinal plants, St. Johns Wort, Toothache Plant, Mullein, Echinacea, Comfrey and North American Ginseng. Some communal idealists are busy watering, transplanting and turning over the compost pile. They speak to us of alternative medicine, capitalism and schizophrenia. They also give a small lecture on the history of hybridization. Apparently hand pollination goes back to Egyptian times.
There appears to be consensus communality between the various actors but they are a bit strange. The bad taste hippy-garb/punk-PVC-fetish mixed wardrobe is bad enough. But here on the farm the playacting sometimes gets a bit out of hand. Some of the pFARMers are hooded or have rings through their noses attached to little golden chains. Two black leather clad Dominas patrol the perimeter, giving orders to the lay workers, 'Loosen the Soil with your Hands!' and 'Be Gentle with the Transplants!' One of the pFARMers speaks out of turn and is led off by his nose. He is subject to animal-related insults and forcibly buried in the fermenting humectress of the compost pile. We are a bit enthralled and a bit put off by all the psychodrama. This really is a strange place.
We retire to the bookstore and kitchen for snacks and literature. One of the devotees gives us a pitch. Courses are taught. Internships are possible. Complete submission programs are expensive but offered at a discount, if we are willing to become human subjects in their new reproductive research laboratory. Improved or just merely altered life forms are being organically mutated through pFARM research. 'It is all organic,' we are told. We are given flowers and an info packet. We are invited to a ritual Celebration of the Earth party. We are assured numerous times that, 'This is not a cult.'
A: Organic Farming Subculture
A French Intensive, Biodynamic-influenced tract of farmland has been cultivated in the woods near Woodstock, New York (exact location kept secret). We have joined the Farmer's Market Federation of New York. We seek the aid of skilled Permaculture Advisors and Interpretive Land Use Experts on what plants are native and medicinal, how to cultivate following the lay of the land, how to ensure organic (or at least non-conventional) claims are honest and how to best inform/deform the present day conceptions of 'getting back to nature.'
B: Sado-Masochistic Subculture
Our hired hands, also codified as âdomestic animalsâ, are often faux-kidnapped from the reservoir of New York City's excess of submissive professionals. We have joined The Society of Janus. We invite the potent forces of of any and all professional or lifestyle Dominas to help rule our pFARM. We sponsor fetish monomania themed weekends and advertise in some of New York City's skuzziest smut rags (e.g., Screw Magazine). The submissives are forced to till the earth, aid in mulching compost and care for the plants and animals. They are kept in pens or sleep with the chickens. They are philosophically retrained to access their inner âbecoming animalâ abilities.
C: Biotech Company Subculture
Behind the scenes various Biotechnological games are played:
Submissives must sign away their rights as human subjects. They then donate hair follicles and other body fluids to pFARM in a sex-magik genomic librarian fetish manoeuver that must be documented to be believed. The biological samples are stored in the barn. The rights to these cell lines are legally owned by pFARM. The pFARM Cryogenic Storage Library will be offered to the highest bidder online as a submissive genomic databank. Perhaps the samples should be donated to US Homeland Security Research so they can isolate the gene for submissive behavior? I'm sure that would help aid world domination! And pFARMers deserve to be known as the trustworthy and selfless patriots that we are.
The meaning of these actions is summed up in the spontaneous rituals that unfold. When we surround the actuality of modern molecular biolab processes with an overly romantic agricultural space, which encourages fetishistic and erotic performativity, then and only then does labwork, as a cult behavioral plane, have a chance to reveal its inner workings. The masturbatory zeitgeist of alterity and fatherhood that is implied by both agriculture and sci-culture is made translucent in the near honesty of pFARM.
We have also joined the New York Metropolitan Embryology Society and plan to be offering a Ph.D. in the Practice of Artistic Human Engineering within the year.
Eleven Reasons why this is important:
1- The tension between Green Movement Grassroots Agriculture and High Tech GMO Pharming is one of the major schisms in our everyday lives. Industry rhetorical tropes vie for continued dominance over sustainable and appropriate technology mindsets in an eco-catastrophic world of overpopulation and mass extinction. We have destroyed the multiuse function of the Earth in the name of human-centric, obsessive-compulsive hygiene psychosis. We also rely on new agribusiness technologies to prevent famine by upping production, sometimes at any cost. On the other hand, most organic products are affordable only to middle and upper class citizens. Both venues lay claims to a higher standard of health, cleanliness and superior realisms. Both point fingers at the baseness of the other. And generally, both camps have doubleplusgood gods or goddesses to back them up in the clinch.
2- Though quite different in their propagandistic goals, neither Organic nor Biotech avenues of expression can appreciate any Sado-Masochistic metaphors applied to their preferred process. Both are willing to concede the essential dominance over nature that farming and livestock represent. But, neither will cop to the inherent fetishism and overt control issues that are expressed by these ways of being. Both find open, excessive eroticism to be decadent and wasteful. Communists and Capitalists agree, decadence is caused by their enemy's moral lack. This sexual economy needs debunking.
3- Though the psychodrama of Victorian Boudoir play is part of popular culture, so is its secretiveness. In my experience, both Organic Farmers and BioTech executives are demographically participating in eroticized power relations on a professional level. I do have two years experience as a co-worker in a house of domination. All professions are quietly represented. Professionals who partake in commercially available fetish sessions may be using secrecy as part of the titillating thrill. Transgression is therefore sometimes a preferential ritual to liberate a personal monomania and it is also sometimes a cued revelry semi-allowed in a socially constructed, silently legal 'forbidden zone'.
But, there is another subset of the sex-activist community who are interested in outing the taboo, making ecstatic and experimental sexological practice an acceptable part of the everyday. We refuse the pay-per-view commercial version of adult playtime. It is the orgasmic way of life, the uncovering of our hedonistic juvenilia that implicates the puritanical binary opposites of green (money) and grey (utility) in the world of red (blood), white (milk and sperm) and black (shit/soil.)
4- Therefore, pFARM creates a tripartite tension between various concepts of power and social propriety. It is hoped that this will create a space of conflicting worldviews that are culturally difficult to blend. We thereby hope to open up thought processes beyond the tunnel vision of any of these specialty practitioners. The complexity of this performance will certainly bother anybody willing to live in a democracy that can't handle the complexity of hosting more than two political parties, is permissive of Third World-styled coups and submits to policies that result in irrational world war .
5- The placement of the power Farm in Woodstock, New York (which is my home town) is especially important. As a central iconic vestige of Hippy/Yippie/Yuppie culture, Woodstock is in need of a grassroots public performance pimple to remind its denizens of the other side of the peace and love sixties mediated pabulum. Predominantly a quaint tourist town, very expensive and elitist, this tie-dyed scenic vacation arena has lost its agitation propaganda edge. Some people refer to its townspeople as trustafarians. Few of us remember fondly the tactics of Abbie Hoffman and the Chicago 8. Few of us base our practice on the really annoying Yippie culture-fuckers. Most of my parent's generation all just lost themselves on Cocaine, Mortgage Payments and Amnesia after Kent State, after they realized that the government might just shoot them too. That's why the Black Panthers, the SLA and The Weathermen are all just lumpable under the single word - 'evil' - in pop-politics these days. As a symbolic bastion of leftist free thought, Woodstock needs a wheatgrassroots enema. It is my hope that by being forced to house or confront the power FARM, something other than complacent-activist rhetoric might rear its head. Even if it is reactionary, it is another kind of outing of implicit mores.
6- Actual Paganism, philosophically, implicates many of the roots of both traditional farming (Dionysian) and high-tech farming (Alchemical). By emphasizing the Goddess/Dominatrix ruling over the original Beasts of Burden - Men - we may signal a return to the erotic origins of domesticity. With the first furrow, the Rites of Spring will untarnish the underground fetish scene in the name of complexity and honest admission of power relations, where and how they are actually applied. Anti-Apollo Styled Psychodrama will infect determinism as we call on chaos to be the self-organizing impetus for our performance. Highly spontaneous and improvised rituals will emanate, morphogenetically, to spurn the status quo and open avenues of escape. Closeted angel-faced ascetic romanticism will be spurned in cultish blebbing of rigorous and ritualistic a-truism. We will be forced to live! Viva Vivo!
7- All three of these crisscrossing avenues will be run as 'businesses'. Not commercial businesses but faux businesses. Businesses incorporated on paper only. The pFARM will produce tinctures of organic herbal drugs like Spilanthus (Toothache Plant, an edible nervine), Echinacea, Comfrey, St. Johnâs Wort and Mullein as well as some edibles to be sold at the farmerâs market in leather gear and pink overalls (strap-ons optional.) The Submissive farm animal people will pay for their humiliating participation. The blood and body fluid bank may be sold or mapped.
There are potentially valued genes for:
FET (fetishism), MMA (monomania) and SUBm (submission)
to be sequenced and injected into embryos of erotomaniacal baby designers. The embryological work in the lab area may actually produce some novel plants and animals, worth more as art objects, controversial living beings or strange gastronomical delicacies, than any of the aforementioned schemes. This mishmash of Pharming and Phantasy as cash-intensive minuet should invite the wrath of any repressive social reaction to confront the seedy side of our 'free' market, capital-obtrusive, and thoroughly heisted lives. By the way, I know commercial ventures are not supported by the KLF... we can talk about non-profit status, performing incorporation and the possibility of burning all cash tendered as ways out of this clash between funding protocol and corporate posturing. If the stigma of commercial venture are not supported by the pFARM Klan... we can talk about non-profit status, performing incorporation and/or the possibility of burning all cash tendered. These are ways out of this clash between the actuality of Promethean funding protocol and critical corporate posturing.
8- The animal experimentation is really the crux of this project. Although a small and hidden garage enterprise, it may be difficult legally and ethically to accomplish the mutagenisations. If I form a business model, the legality may conform to that structure, even if it is art related. It may also be the only way to be protected from lawsuits. For some reason, profit motive seems to bend the law in this nation? Finally, if litigation does come to pass, the optional business model may implicate other startup biopharm companies in a web of legal obscurities.
a. The Animal Controller of Woodstock might find grave cause for inspection and we would have to find the maximum allowable animal experimentation in Woodstock. This could also be more than the local Animal Activists could bear.
b. The question of organic mutagenesis is contentious. Knowing the protocols for both, I would love to make it difficult to define where unnatural acts begin in an agricultural process.
c. The mutations I plan are not targeted. Neither are they tagged. We would just shoot from the hip and see what grows up and how. This is not science but anarchic one-of-a-kind VivoArt production schema. This is also biohazardous.
9- The collection of human tissues is also a biohazard. AIDS tests may be required. A skilled phlebotomist might help. Luckily, many nurses are fetish oriented. Librarians too! The use of human subjects and the patenting of cell lines are realms of contention worth exploring, which brings us to...
10- Forms. I love forms! Forms to me are Performative Space. There are several Legal documents I should like to have written up, for instance: Combination Model Release/Human Subjects Informed Consent Forms, Release of Individual Cell Lines for Bio-Artistic Research or Resale, Aesthetic Embryological Breeding Tactics Business Plan including A Request for the Right to Conduct Mutagenic Chicken and Plant Embryology and Human Tissue Research in the Town of Woodstock. Other important forms would result in a small but tactical arrangement of Artistic Support Rejection Forms from a variety of insultable sources, i.e. NEA, NIH, The Woodstock Guild of Craftsmen, and Biogen. A general business plan could set up pFARM as a non-profit incorporation, tax free, possibly religious (I am a minister) and openly erotic on the books.
11- On certain days and nights, professional Dominatrixes will direct the farm and all farm work will be fetishised to the maximum degree. At other times, biotechnological and ecological seasoned professionals could run free seminars and practical labs. The use of real and imaginary worlds folded in on each other is one of my greatest goals. That is why I like making these fantasies publicly accessible, matter of fact and fantastic. So this would be a teach-in and an act-out arena.
And yes, it is true, this is not a cult. But, from one strange, temporary and autonomous culture to another, the inherently bogus and potentially joyous alt-culture movement continues to rear its head. pFARM, a Power Farm, a Biotech Fetish Organic Farm Incorporated is an implausible trinity. Formed under the joint title of pFARM, the powerFARM is actually a site specific, multiperson, liminal consciousness accessing, boundary-pushing micro-society. Crossing the wires of multiple contentious debates in an actuated, rural and grassroots public space, The pFARM Project is another of this worldâs botched planned communities waiting to happen.
The powerFARM is open to the public and yet intentionally secretive about some of its activities. You are invited to donate your life and all of your assets to the performance force and site-specific travails that it will take to get this thing off the ground. The summers in NY are muggy and humid, escape to the Catskills is a timeworn tradition. I think a core group could convince new followers to join and we might reach true love-in capacity by summerâs end. The youth of the town need the impetus. The spirit of the town needs the post-60s/post-punk spectacle for the revival to stop retro-kultural looping in neutral. I will try my best to include locals and local wisdom into my repertoire. I will also try to include as wide a variety of fetishists, ecologists and mutation specialists in the formation and practice of pFARM.
pEOPLE or pARTNERS welcome to be involved in pFARM:
pERFORMANCE Artists, Musicians, Dominatrixes, Fetishists, Organic Farmers, Conservation Ecologists, Embryologists, Molecular Biologists, Video Documenters, Volunteers, Submissive Investors, the generally devout and The pUBLIC.
The space is open to high weirdness, spontaneous access to a variety of mindsets and self-initiated interlopers.
Performed by: Adam Zaretsky Lori Duino Claudia Nomi Kay Kay Nomi Don Paul Swain Ripno Jurgens Katharine Wright Rutger Chowder Gregor Trieste Zane Raven Sean Zimmerman Jimmy Billingsley Carla Gannis Tovey Halleck Ethical Advisor: Michalis Pichler Produced by: Ian Navel and Dave Fruchter Written by: Adam Zaretsky Directed by: Chase Pierson Tarvis Watson Performance Dementia Focalized by: Chase Pierson Tarvis Watson Katharine Wright Adam Zaretsky Cinematography: Chase Pierson Tarvis Watson Edited: Ada Zaretsk Chase Pierson Tarvis Watson Set Design and Construction Don Paul Swain Matt Weinberger Props and Location Scout Sean Zimmerman Music Credits: Duet Music - Alicia Mangan Marshal Tremmil, The Jesse Stiles 3000 and Beat on the Brat - The Droogs, Special Thanks to Tovey Halleck, Mower's Market and the People of Woodstock.
Subject: Adam Zaretsky: ON the pFARM by LINDA WEINTRAUB
Adam Zaretsky addresses the fetish for power that has led humanity to pump its intellectual, mental, and physical muscles and dominate other species, earth forces, and each other. His innovative measures to reverse power-mania take the form of cultivating submissiveness. Indeed, Zaretsky craves submissiveness as others crave power. He has formulated a triad of unlikely techniques to replace aggressive power-mongering with docile obedience: organic farming, sado-masochistic sexual practices, and biotech experimentation. The first is a bizarre charade. The second is a performance spectacle. The third is lunatic science.
Prior to industrial agriculture, farm animals provided a fine example of submissiveness. Beasts of burden submit to a yoke, labor in silence, and endure fatigue without complaint. Zaretsky creates opportunities for humans to emulate this ideal at his farm in Woodstock, New York. Members, students, and visitors crawl and pull ploughs, till the earth, sleep in pens, sport chains attached to the rings in their noses, and sit on eggs until they hatch. They are banished to the compost pile if they misbehave. Courses are offered through a ‘submission program’. Zaretsky says they are designed to “inform/deform the present day conceptions of ‘getting back to nature’.”
Although the farm was inactive at the time of this writing, native medicinal plants have been cultivated and marketed to manifest the positive principle of submissiveness. For example, the crops are grown by submitting to natural biodynamic processes instead of the hostile take-over of the land that characterizes industrialized and chemical-saturated agriculture. Furthermore, the tinctures made from the plants are marketed in the streets by members. Besides selling their remedies, they enact strange public rituals wearing leather regalia and pink overalls in celebration of submissiveness. Zaretsky explains that he perform a “cash-intensive minuet” to “confront the seedy side of our ‘free’ market, capital-obtrusive, and thoroughly heisted lives.”
Biotechnology: The red barn on the farm functions as “the Lab’ where secrete experimentation is being conducted to concoct a DNA in which submissive genes prevail over aggressive ones. This requires that subjects willingly donate a bodily fluid sample so that their genomic DNA can be stored in the Cryogenic Storage Library. Zaretsky will sell these valued genes for sequencing and injecting into embryos for the purpose of isolating the gene for submissive behavior. Supporting and conducting molecular bio laboratory research to design a new breed of humans and free the world of the scourge of domination. As Zaretsky explains, “pFARMers deserve to be known as the trustworthy and selfless patriots that we are.”
Sado-Masochism: The search for submissive DNA samples and the desire to promote the advantages of submissive life styles have led Zaretsky into a den of deviant sexuality. The logic is flawless since in each S & M relationship there is one member whose extreme submissiveness is a source of delight and gratification. Zaretsky utilizes “eroticized power relations” to link masochism with “titillating thrills” and “inherent fetishism,” and an “orgasmic way of life.” He then states, “By emphasizing the Goddess/Dominatrix rule over the original Beasts of Burden – men – we may signal a return to the erotic origins of domesticity.”
Gathering genetic samples from desirable organisms is not new. Selective breeding has been practiced since the dawn of agriculture. What is revolutionary is the characteristic that pFARM chooses to favor. Marketing submissiveness as a desirable state of being threatens the fundamental tenets of contemporary civilization. The excess so many people currently enjoy, as well as its damaging consequences, are the result of dominating tactics that characterize in industrial farming, engineering, mining, manufacturing, and constructing. Through his insightful lunacy, Zaretsky links taboo sexuality with environmental and social reform.
How will a vast population of submissives constitute a functioning society? Instead of rule by dominators, Zaretsky places faith in the rule of chaos, a phenomenon noted by scientists whereby chaotic conditions spontaneously self-organize. Furthermore, these chaotic systems often reorganize in new and promising manners.
Zaretsky’s multi-pronged strategies to eradicate “the fat of the land”, therefore, incorporate cloning, transgenics, and genomics, as well as pranks, posturing, and absurdity. A wild proposition emerges from their intersection – the time has come for humans to abandon the presumption of privileged status. Instead of a brave new world, Zaretsky strives to create a timid new world. He concludes, “We are breeding for pleasure in a world of hurt. Our children will be posthuman but not superhuman…And we are proud not to be proud.”